This story took place in the magical month of May, but it became real just this week.
This past year – in May of 2016 – a Mini-Marathon participant by the name of Mark Seitz was about to run his 18th Indy Mini (applause Mark). Seitz picked up his packet at the Mini Expo per usual. Inside, he found a t-shirt, hat and bib; your typical goodies in a Mini package. But he found something not-so-typical, too; a hand-drawn picture with a note from a local elementary student.
August Stella was a 4th grade student at Carey Ridge Elementary school last year. He was one of 25,000 students to take part in the Indianapolis 500 and 500 Festival Education Program in 2016 – the first year students wrote notes to Mini-Marathoners. In his note, he wished a random participant (in this case, Seitz) good luck in the Mini. He also drew a blue race car.
As Seitz blazed the Mini course for yet another year, he took to the straight away at IMS thinking about the race car that August had drawn. Seitz decided to thank August for the motivation by giving him his Mini medal and bib. With the help of his wife, Linda, he did exactly that. Over 25,000 students wrote notes to 35,000 Mini-Marathon participants, so it seemed unlikely that this was anything more than a random act of kindness from August to Mark, and back again.
Linda took the medal, accompanied by a note to “Augie”, and delivered it to Carey Ridge Elementary. Later that night, Mark received a message from Augie’s mother, Leigh. The message read:
My name is Leigh Stella, and your wife, Linda, delivered your note, bib, and medal to my son Augie today.
I cannot thank you enough for this kindness. Augie has had a tough school year… it’s been a struggle, but we’re hoping to finish strong. You might imagine how your note and gift has encouraged and excited Augie already.
We are so grateful that you sought Augie out — but I guess we should not be surprised… we were delighted to discover that you are married to one of our favorite people! Linda cared for our daughter, Kate, in the infant room at Maple Glen. It is indeed a small world!
Blessings to you sir! You have made one little boy very proud… he hasn’t taken the medal off yet.
With fondness, The Stella Family
SIX MONTHS LATER
The story is such an awesome example of the impact of the Mini-Marathon, but it didn’t stop there. On Sunday, Nov. 12, Mark and Augie finally met… by accident… at a pizza restaurant.
“What a great day! I got to finally meet Augie!
Auggie and his family happened to walk into the same local pizza restaurant where Linda and I were dining this evening. Linda took the opportunity to introduce me to this cool young man.”
And with that, a now-5th grader and an experienced Mini-Marathoner became instant friends. Students will continue to write notes to Mini-Marathoners as part of the education program in 2017, and we hope to see more stories like this.
We love May here at the 500 Festival, but we’re pretty fond of August now, too.
Read Mark Seitz’ full blog
Learn about the Indy Mini and how you can run with a purpose through Mini With A Meaning